I’m enjoying the break for the holidays, spending lots of quality time with family and friends. That’s what it’s for anyway. My sister Jadine is home from Seattle, and it’s been good to see her. The last time was last Christmas. We had a big turkey dinner last night, and there’s another upcoming tonight.
There was some sad news yesterday, with the passing of Oscar Peterson, my favorite musician ever. He was a jazz great who stood high among the greatest, and was an inspiration to millions, including me. Even after having a stroke that disabled his left hand in 1993, he got back on the bench and relearned how to play, mostly with his right hand. With one hand, he was twice the pianist that most are with both hands. Peterson was a proud Canadian. He was born in Montreal, and lived for many years in Mississauga. He was awarded the Companion of the Order of Canada, the highest honor this country can bestow. Despite having won just about every award in the music industry, including a 8 Grammys and several lifetime achievement awards, and having recorded with the biggest names in jazz like Charlie Parker, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Nat King Cole and Stan Getz, he remained humble and accessible to the end. His new blog was cut short after the first entry.
He was an improvisational genius, acknowledging the greatest moments of musical beauty happened during improvisation. As his fingers flew over the keys, you could hear his soul in the music, joyous, nimble and full of light. Here’s a video of him performing with his famous trio.
Rest well, Oscar.